Vintage TV is about to get Saintly makeover

Now here’s something that will raise an eyebrow. It seems that The Saint could soon be on his way back to our TV screens.

Sir Roger Moore, whose is co-producing The Saint
Sir Roger Moore, whose is co-producing The Saint

Along with Channel Island crime series Bergerac, 18th century Cornish drama Poldark, nose-twitching Bewitched and a host of other popular characters from yesteryear.

What is it with retro TV? Given the graveyard of small-screen remakes which have haunted Hollywood in recent years, you have to wonder why networks keep churning them out.

Carl Jones

“Every generation needs a Saint,” claims the Godliest Simon Templar of them all, Sir Roger Moore, who has a twinkle-eyed cameo in the pilot episode of the new show.

He’ll be praying that he’s right. Because Sir Rog isn’t just a cast member this time, his production company has ploughed big bucks into this glossy re-imagining of the famous crime series, inspired by the Leslie Charteris novels.

Check out the trailer on YouTube . . . the halo has been entrusted to Shropshire-born TV hunk Adam Rayner, and to be fair, it looks pretty darned mouthwatering.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll fall in love with The Saint all over again and the show will defy the odds when it hits our screens later in the year.

We’re certainly not short on remakes in telly world these days. Most of them turn out to be absolute stinkers, disappearing with far less fanfare than that which greeted their arrival.

The sleek, hip, and expensive relaunch of The Bionic Woman, starring former EastEnder Michelle Ryan, was a high-profile disappointment.

She just couldn’t shake off her miserable face; perhaps that’s what comes of spending too long in Albert Square.

Undeterred, producers pressed ahead with similarly underwhelming reboots of The Prisoner with Jim Caviezel (a soulless and utterly pointless remake of one of the UK’s most ground- breakingly unique shows), plus Flash Gordon, The Professionals, and – worst of all – Shane Richie as Minder, and a new batch of Barbie-like Charlie’s Angels.

Hawaii-Five-O is probably the only one of the bunch which has kept its head above water, and it’s achieved that by presenting itself as a throwback to the buddy cop films of the 1980s; Lethal Weapon with a tropical twist.

Clearly, it’s easier to sell an idea with a proven track record, and possibly a dormant fan base, than it is to pitch something which is brand new.

But walking the tightrope of staying faithful to the original, while making it relevant to the present, is harder than many people think.

My wife laughs at me at this time of year. I suffer from something football fans call close-season syndrome. When there’s no live football on the box, I’m bereft. I can’t be doing with bearded thugs chasing an egg around a field, sticking their heads into each other’s groins, although I am chomping at the bit for the start of The Ashes – when I’ll happily settle for a ‘remake’ of the famous 2005 and 2009 victories.

In the meantime, though, I find myself trawling the vintage channels in search of old classics.

Shows like The Avengers, The Sweeney, The Professionals and, yes, The Saint, are so of their time that they conjure up memories of a Britain which bears scant resemblance to the country we inhabit today.

And the reality is that, in many cases, our world has changed far more than these shows possibly can.